Nourish - What’s The Scoop on Cacao
The word ‘theobroma cacao ’ actually translates to ‘food of the gods’. And for good reason. After all, we use this humble bean to make chocolate!
Cacao trees produce fruits (pods) which contain cacao seeds. From these seeds cacao solids and butter are extracted which can be used to make delicious raw chocolates and even face creams!
In its raw state, cacao is extremely nutritious and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. These include iron, chromium, copper, zinc, potassium and phosphorus.
Interestingly, cacao is also recognised as one of the best sources of magnesium in existence. This ladies, is also why some women crave chocolate at a certain time of the month. It’s not because you want chocolate exactly, but because you need the magnesium which can be found in abundance within this bean.
So next time you get the cravings, ditch the sugary processed forms of chocolate. Instead, get chowing down on some amazing raw chocolate, add some nibs to your breakfast or blend up a tasty chocolate smoothie to banish those cravings!
Moving away from PMS and back to the magnesium..!
Magnesium is a mineral that is required for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, and it helps the body to perform its normal functions. These include but are not limited to:
- maintenance of muscle and nerve function
- the building of proteins
- controlling blood sugar
- regulating blood pressure
- for the proper growth and maintenance of bones.
Signs of your body lacking in this mineral include muscle cramps, fatigue and abnormal heart rhythms.
High in Antioxidants
This humble bean is also very rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are helpful in preventing and repairing free radical damage, protecting and repairing cells, and therefore help to keep you healthy.
Chocolate is often dismissed as an unhealthy snack, but this is due to how it is processed. When commercial chocolate is made, cacao is processed and refined, and large amounts of refined sugar are often added. Additionally, it’s also loaded with processed fats, milk, artificial sweeteners, colourings and added flavourings.
Raw Cacao on the other hand is different. It’s made by cold-pressing un-roasted cacao beans and retains its nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes.
When cacao is consumed in its unprocessed form, it acts as a great mood enhancer and is rich in anti-ageing antioxidants. Furthermore, it’s great for energy and even good for your arteries. Say what now? Yep, this is due to the flavonoids which prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidising and clogging.
Undoubtedly a big bonus for cacao is how incredibly versatile it is. The various forms mean there is a multitude of ways to really get the benefits and enjoyment from it.
Try it in powdered form by adding it to:
- add to energy ball recipes
- raw or baked goods
- make raw chocolate
- mixed with nut milk, cinnamon and coconut sugar to make a hot chocolate
- make a latte
- make a raw cheesecake
- add to a coffee to make it more of a mocha
- make pancakes
- add to chia pudding
- mix it with avocados to make a mousse for a tasty dessert!
The nibs are small pieces of crushed peeled, raw cacao beans. They have a satisfyingly rich deep bitter chocolate flavour and a delicious, crunchy texture. Add nibs to:
- smoothies/as a smoothie bowl topping
- trail mixes
- energy balls
- raw treats
- eat as-is for a nutritious snack when you need a boost of energy
Traditionally, when making chocolate, the peeled cacao beans are crushed into nibs as we mentioned above. To make cacao powder, they’re then pressed and ground with very high pressure. The other part leftover from this process is the pure fat, aka Cacao Butter. Cacao butter is recognizable by its yellowy oil when melted at low heat. When it hardens it turns into a cream-coloured solid when cooled to room temperature. Despite its name, there is no butter nor dairy in Cacao Butter. There is also no buttery flavour, or chocolate flavour strangely enough.
To make chocolate, Chocolatiers recombine the cacao powder and butter, alongside additional ingredients to create their chocolates.
Cacao Butter mostly adds richness to recipes and of course, the texture.
You will find many recipes out there incorporating cacao butter into cookies, brownies and cakes. Additionally, it is great in homemade truffles, fudge and of course, chocolate. You can even add it to warm drinks, such as a the below matcha latte recipe.
And lastly, this butter makes a lovely skin-nurturing topical balm. Simply rub directly onto the skin. (It’s a bit easier if you warm it up first, or rub it between your palms.
Matcha Latte with Cacao Butter
- grate roughly ½ a teaspoon of cacao butter into your morning matcha.
- Whisk so it gets fully incorporated and add your hot milk.
- You can also throw both the matcha tea and milk into a blender with the butter and a bit of honey for extra froth and sweetness.
Try one of my favourite cacao smoothie recipes:
From One Choco-holic to Another Cacao Smoothie
- frozen bananas – 2
- cacao powder – 2 tbsp
- cacao nibs – 1 tsp
- cinnamon- 1 tsp
- organic almond butter – 1 tsp
- almond milk/coconut milk/cashew milk/water – 1-2 cups
- sweetener of choice – 2-4 dates, 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or raw honey
- Superfood option – 1 teaspoon maca powder
- You can also add a pinch of cayenne for a kick of spice, maya –style!
Blend all ingredients until a liquid consistency is reached – enjoy!
Any questions? Drop into your local Nourish store to chat with our expert team and explore our full range of foods, supplements and skincare. You can also find our full product range in our online store.
*Please note that while we are knowledgeable about our products and nutrition, this blog should never be a substitute for medical advice and attention
Please remember that you should always obtain the all-clear from your doctor before starting any new supplement plan or diet if you’re on any medication